'Mr. Pocono' Robert Uguccioni remembered for devotion to resort area

Nov. 14—His friends and acquaintances knew him as Bob or Mr. U.

But Robert Uguccioni earned another title for which he'll be best remembered: Mr. Pocono.

For four decades, from 1967 to 2007, Uguccioni worked tirelessly as executive director of what is now known as the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau to make the Poconos one of the top vacation and recreation destinations in the East.

Uguccioni's family announced his death in a Facebook post Sunday. He was 87.

Chris Barrett, the current PMVB president and CEO, praised Uguccioni as a friend and valued mentor who was a leader both in the industry and in the resort area he called home.


"Promoting the Pocono Mountains was a lifelong commitment to which Bob devoted his full measure," Barrett said in a statement.

A native of Dunmore who lived in Tannersville, Uguccioni came to the PMVB from a hospitality background. His family owned White Beauty View on Lake Wallenpaupack when Uguccioni was young. He then served in the Air Force overseas before returning home to begin his career in tourism marketing.

In a 2007 interview with The Times-Tribune, he recalled the bureau had three employees and an annual budget of $100,000 when he became director in 1967.

By the time he retired 40 years later at age 72, the organization employed 35 people and had an $8 million budget.

Austin Burke, the former longtime president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce who worked with Uguccioni over the years, said he was a master at cajoling state legislators to get tourism dollars into the state budget.

Burke described Uguccioni as "one of the key people who established the Poconos as the vacationland for the East Coast," with a focus on pulling in visitors from New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia "and really everywhere else."

"He was totally committed to making that the identity of the Poconos and maintaining that identity. Whether it was skiing or racing at Pocono Raceway or all the individual businesses that were up there, many of them unique to the Poconos, he devoted himself to it," Burke said.

After the resort area experienced some lean years in the 1990s, Uguccioni was credited with leading a resurgence in early 2000s with developments such as Mount Airy Casino Resort and Great Wolf Lodge.

Mount Airy, which closed in 2001 after its owners sought bankruptcy protection, was purchased in 2004, by Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples, who invested $412 million to rebuild the resort.

Uguccioni was instrumental in making introductions and helping to clear a pathway for the project, DeNaples spokesman Al Magnotta said.

"I think it was extremely beneficial to us," Magnotta said. "He was widely respected throughout the Pocono area. He was able to get us access to a lot of local officials, a lot of civic groups we spoke before, and we were able to make our intentions clear, how we wanted to approach this and what our objectives were."

Thomas R. Wilkins, CEO of Stroudsburg-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates, said he had known Uguccioni since the mid-1970s, both as head of the PMVB and as a personal friend.

Uguccioni had an affable personality, he said, and it was not unusual for him to strike up a conversation with strangers who were visiting the area and tell them all about the Poconos.

"One of the unique things about Bob is Bob represented the Poconos — the entire Poconos," Wilkins said. "Whether you were a small candlestick maker or you were a major resort, you meant just the same to Bob no matter what the size was. He just wanted to see people coming to the Poconos."

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